Day 5: Tell a Good Story

My Girlfriend is Magic
Sometimes when my partner asks me about my day, I launch into a tirade about how much everyone in the world sucks. I tell her about the appointment that stood me up, the guy that cut me off in traffic, and the horrible customer service call I had. I complain that I lost my wallet, was late to a meeting, and how our car share wasn’t available when I needed it.

When I finish she looks at me calmly and replies, “It sounds like you had a rough day.” I smile back and say, “yeah, it was”. And then she does something really amazing. She simply comes over and touches my arm or gives me a hug. And in that moment it’s like every bad thing about my day just melts away.

All of a sudden I remember how lucky I am, that I get to wake up everyday in a warm bed, with a furry cat, and walk the 20 feet to my home office. I remember all the amazing conversations I get to have with clients, all of the articles I’ve read, and how lucky I am to have someone to talk to about my very bad, no good, bummer of a day.

So what happened? Is my girlfriend a wizard with magical touch? Well no, at least I haven’t been able to prove it, but it’s not her magic that changed my mood. What changed was the story I was telling about my day. Instead of telling myself a story about the crappy day I was having, I was able to see that along with that story was another story that felt much better to tell.

Your Life is a Story
Your whole life is a story you tell yourself, and you get to decide what that story is. You get to decide if it’s a tragedy, a comedy, a romance, or a Young Adult dystopian novel. Sure there might be days when you struggle to see the light and it feels like everything is going wrong. But even on the best days something goes wrong, and even on the worst days, something goes right.

What makes a day, a week, a month, or a year good or bad is largely determined by the details you focus on and the stories you choose to tell yourself about them.

And one of the simplest and most powerful awareness practices you can do is learning how to notice the stories you tell yourself and choosing to tell different ones.

Happiness Challenge #5

Today’s challenge builds on the challenges we’ve worked on up to this point, so if you’ve done those challenges you’re one step ahead. If you haven’t done any of the previous challenges, now is a great time to catch up.

1. Practice: The first step to telling a new story about your life is to notice exactly what story you’re telling. As you go throughout your day notice the stories you tell to yourself.

  • Notice the stories you tell about the other people (esp. the rude ones).
  • Notice the stories you tell about your life and how this day fits or conflicts with that narrative.
  • Simply notice these stories without judgement and with curiosity.

2. Reflect: Now that you’re at the end of your day and before you write in your journal take a few minutes to reflect on the stories you told yourself today. If you want, you can write down a few themes or even notes about the stories you told yourself. Or you can simply reflect on them in your mind.

Then think of one event today that was positive and write a very short story about it and why it was good. It can just be a few sentences and at most a paragraph. Keep it simple and small. Bonus: If you want to do extra take an event that you saw as negative and rewrite it as positive or neutral.

3. Share: Now it’s time to share your experience so do one or more of the following:

  • Write a blog post: Write about the stories you tell yourself. You might include how it felt to write a positive story about your day or what it might be like if you put a positive spin on a neutral or negative story. Make sure to add a link to this post in your post, post a link in the comments, or share it with the Facebook group.
  • Share what you learned on social media. When you share your stories with others, it gains power and encourages others to reinforce how you want to see your life. As always include the tag #30dayhappy and/or share in the Facebook group.
  • Write a comment: Ask a question, share your experience, or share one or more of your stories in the comments below.

Great work on the challenge so far! The story I’m telling myself is that you’re all working hard, learning a lot, and beginning to notice some simple things you can do to increase your happiness. I’m a very lucky guy to know so many amazing people who want to make the world a better place, one smile at a time.


9 thoughts on “Day 5: Tell a Good Story

  1. I always feel better when I tell a good story. There is almost never a day that I can’t find something to be grateful about and I try and weave that feeling into my story. Lately I have been trying hard to notice my dialogue when I am thinking about someone else’s story and trying to leave any judgement out of the storyline.

    1. Practicing with judgement is tricky, because you use your discernment to stay safe and make good choices. I’ve practiced with judgement during my morning routine for almost a year now. I try to notice my judgment with out inner criticism and then reflect on how am humbled by the amazing people around me. I love the way you took this idea and applied it with the story challenge, it gave me something to chew on. Well done!

  2. I am not the cook in my family, my partner is; but she has been sick lately and I have tried to pick up the slack in the cooking/food prep department. Tonight I made one of my few specialties for dinner and we both enjoyed it, capping off a day that did not start out positively at all.

  3. I am checking my email as I get home at midnight and I find my challenge #5 “Tell a Story”. And once again God proves me that there’re no coincidences in life.
    Today I went to get my hair done with a good friend. She’s is going through some issues and as we talked about it, I ended up telling her “My Story”, which I did with love, fulfillment and and tears of excitement. I was able to remember events, good and bad. And talk about it with greatfulness! And we actually went to a group where I had to stand up and give my testimonial. Telling my story from a positive prospective today, no only made me appreciate every single thing I’ve been through but it also made a positive impact in all the people that heard me speaking today 🙂 It is so worth it to at least try. Please change the way you see events in your life, be thankful for the good and take all the bad as a learning experience, tell yourself and others a good story…

    1. Love it! This is an amazing way to take this challenge to the next level. I’m so glad that your those around you benefited from your powerful story. Thanks so much for being awesome!

  4. Blog post to come… sometime. As far as the internal story I tell of others, well, I’m far easier on others than I am on myself. I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt even when others don’t. People around me know that if they want a story to spread, I’m not the one to tell it to. I’ll listen all day long, but it rarely goes any further (I’m not perfect). My view point of other people has always been that even the jerks have somebody out there who loves them. (Lord only knows why, but they do 😉 ).

    As for myself, I’ve learned to stop and look at the positive. It took awhile and is why I refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist. I think I’ve mentioned before the whole bit of berating myself verbally over one measure played wrong and completely ignoring the other 99 done right? When I catch myself going there, I stop (sometimes telling myself – out loud – “Stop!”) and look at what was right and then move on from there.

  5. I want to share a journal entry I wrote yesterday because I found the exercise quite profound.

    Day 5 – Tell a Good Story
    [My fiance] was here to comfort my sobs. I lost friends who didn’t care about me. Really I lost nothing and it makes me stronger in who I am. My fiance wants my happiness and is always my support at the end of a bad day. Is there any greater joy?
    I could be telling the story of how much I suck as a human and no one likes me, but I choose not to. Hey, this is my favorite day of the challenge so far. Talk about a learning experience!

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